Tuesday, September 28, 2010

State woos Detroit firms; some interested in region

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Saturday, September 25, 2010 12:15 AM CDT

With the recession officially over, manufacturers are starting to consider more relocations and expansions, Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said Friday.

Brake was among 20 Kentucky economic development officials who participated in an "economic development mission" to Michigan and Canada this week.

The trip was sponsored by KentuckyUnited, a newly formed, public-private partnership to promote the state's business climate.

"We focus on the state as a whole," Brake said. "But Owensboro has access to all the leads."

He said he met with several auto parts firms that were considering sites in western Kentucky.

"They primarily work with American automakers now," Brake said. "But I think they have a keen interest in making inroads with foreign car makers."

Kentucky is the nation's third-largest automaker and is centrally located, he said.

In 2008, Kentucky trailed only Michigan and Ohio in production of autos.

Brake doesn't expect any immediate results from the trip.

The companies were considering expansions or relocations over the next 18 to 24 months, he said.

But the visits with 35 companies and site selection groups in Detroit, other parts of Michigan, Canada and northern Ohio weren't cold calls.

"We use a firm to identify companies that are considering expansions or relocations," Brake said. "All of these companies expressed an interest in Kentucky."

He said his office will conduct follow-up marketing with the companies during the next few weeks.

"Owensboro has a great story to tell, and the EDC is committed to getting the word out to businesses on the opportunities available in this region," Brake wrote on his blog.

"We go on several missions a year," he said. "But this is the first time we've been to Detroit."